Written by Howard Lindsay
Russel Crouse (Libretto)
Maria von Trapp (Autobiography)
Music by Richard Rodgers (music/lyrics)
Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics)
Irwin Kostal (Score)
Cinematography Ted D. McCord
Editing by William H. Reynolds
Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical film directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is based on the Broadway musical The Sound of Music, with songs written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and with the musical book written by the writing team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Ernest Lehman wrote the screenplay.
The musical originated with the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp. It contains many popular songs, including "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", "Do-Re-Mi", "Sixteen Going on Seventeen", and "The Lonely Goatherd", as well as the title song.
The movie version was filmed on location in Salzburg, Austria and Bavaria in Southern Germany, and also at the 20th Century Fox Studios in California. It was photographed in 70mm Todd-AO by Ted D. McCord. It won a total of five Academy Awards including Best Picture in 1965 and is one of the most popular musicals ever produced. The cast album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
A sequence of aerial shots begins high in the misty Alps. Gradually we descend, flying over pastures, lakes and castles in the lush Salzkammergut foothills; we hear birds. In a pasture on the top of one hill we find Maria (Julie Andrews), exulting in the musical inspiration she finds there (“The Sound of Music”). We learn that Maria is a postulant in Nonnberg Abbey, where she is constantly getting into mischief and is the despair of the nuns (“Maria”). Maria's life suddenly changes when a widowed navy captain, Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) sends to the abbey for a governess for his seven children. Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood), unsure of Maria's suitability for the abbey, asks her to take the position on a probationary basis; previous governesses, though, have not lasted long.
Maria finds that the captain keeps his household in strict shipshape order, blowing a whistle, issuing orders, and dressing his children in sailor-suit uniforms. While the children are initially hostile to her, they warm to her when she comforts them during a thunderstorm (“My Favorite Things”). Liesl (Charmian Carr), who is “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, sneaks in Maria's window after a secret meeting with the messenger boy, Rolfe (Daniel Truhitte). At first she is adamant that she “doesn't need a governess,” but Maria offers to be her friend, and she acquiesces. Maria teaches the children both how to sing (“Do-Re-Mi”) and how to play, sewing playclothes for them from discarded drapery.
The Captain entertains a visit from a lady friend, Baroness Elsa Schraeder (Eleanor Parker), a wealthy socialite from Vienna, along with mutual friend Max Dettweiler (Richard Haydn), who is intent on finding an obscure musical act to launch at the upcoming Salzburg Music Festival. Upon their arrival at the villa, the Captain becomes aware that Maria has been taking the children, Liesl, Friedrich (Nicholas Hammond), Louisa (Heather Menzies), Kurt (Duane Chase), Brigitta (Angela Cartwright), Marta (Debbie Turner), and Gretl (Kym Karath) on picnics and bicycle rides, climbed trees with them, and taken them in a boat on the lake adjoining the captain's estate; Maria, standing up in the boat, loses her balance the boat capsizes, throwing her and all the children into the water (all wearing their clothes made from former curtains). He dismisses the children to the house and turns his wrath on Maria. She begs him to pay attention to the children, to love them, but he orders her to return to the convent.
When he discovers the children performing a reprise of “The Sound of Music” for the Baroness, he changes his mind. Maria has brought music back into his home, and he begs her to stay, after all. Things get better at the household. Maria and the children perform a puppet show ("Lonely Goatherd") that Max gave to the family. Max announces that he has entered the children in the Salzburg Festival; the Captain, however, forbids their participation. Maria and the children insist that the Captain sing a song, knowing that he used to play and sing with a guitar as well, and he agrees ("Edelweiss").
At a soiree thrown in Schraeder's honor to celebrate her impending engagement to the Captain, (and to which Max insists that Maria change and attend as his guest), Maria sees eleven-year-old Kurt trying unsuccessfully to dance the Laendler, an Austrian folk dance, and tries to teach him the steps. The Captain sees this awkwardness from the sidelines and cuts in. The Captain and Maria perform the dance flawlessly with grace and charm. One of the steps in the dance forces them to gaze deeply into one another's eyes, and it is at this moment that Maria breaks off and blushes, stammering something about not being able to remember any more.
The children perform “So Long, Farewell” to say goodnight to the guests, and shortly after, the Baroness, jealous of Maria, convinces her to return to Nonnberg, where she keeps herself in seclusion until the Reverend Mother confronts her, urging her to "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" in search of God's will for her. At the Reverend Mother's command, Maria returns to the von Trapp family, finding that the Captain is now engaged to the Baroness. Von Trapp, however, breaks off the engagement, realizing that he is in love with Maria, not Elsa. He meets Maria in his gazebo and they declare their love for each other (“Something Good”). Sometime later, the two wed.
While they are away on their honeymoon in Paris, Max, against their father's previously-stated wishes, grooms the children to perform in the Salzburg Music Festival. At the same time, Austria is annexed into the Third Reich in the Anschluss. When the Captain returns, he is informed that he must report to Nazi headquarters to accept a position in the Navy. He is opposed to Nazi ideals, and stalls by insisting he must perform in the Salzburg Festival. The choreography of the final song, “So Long, Farewell” allows the family to leave slowly, a few at a time, and as the winners are announced, they flee. At first they hide in Nonnberg Abbey, but are discovered by Rolfe, (who had joined the Nazi party), and flee. The Nazis are unable to pursue them, as the nuns have stolen their spark plug wires and ignition coil. The final shot shows the von Trapps climbing over the Alps into Switzerland, as “Climb Ev'ry Mountain," reprised by a choir, swells to a grand conclusion.
Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp, a free-spirited young Austrian woman, studying to become a nun. Due to her often singing and seeming somewhat out of place in the abbey, Mother Abbess sends her to the nearby city of Salzburg to be governess to the seven children of Captain von Trapp. Although initially hostile toward her, the children come to love Maria through her introducing the joys of music and singing, and she develops a special relationship with Liesl, the eldest. Throughout the film, the Captain grows closer to both his children and Maria through the reintroduction of music, and Maria falls in love with him. Fearful of how returning the Captain's affections might seem in God's eyes (as she is the children's governess), Maria returns to the abbey, but is convinced to return and see what her love might bring. Eventually, the Captain admits his feelings for her, and they marry. However, the Third Reich is taking power via the Anschluss, prompting Maria and her new family to leave Austria. Julie Andrews was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards for her performance.
Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp, a veteran Austrian navy captain whose wife died, leaving behind their seven children. He extends his military background into raising his children, at first represented as a strict disciplinarian. However, the Captain's attitude toward both the children and Maria softens considerably after she reintroduces music into the family. The Captain is courting Baroness Elsa Schraeder throughout the film, and becomes engaged to her, but they call it off, and he proclaims his love to Maria, marrying her instead. The Captain firmly believes in Austrian independence, proudly displaying the Austrian flag and tearing down the Nazi one, as well as refusing to join the Nazis. He, Maria and the children leave Austria at the end of the film by crossing the Alps to Switzerland. Plummer's singing voice was dubbed by Bill Lee.
Richard Haydn as Max Detweiler, a good friend of both the Baroness and the Captain, he is one of the few to call him Georg. Max seeks out talented musicians and singers, and reveals them to the public eye. In searching Salzburg for talented singers, he finds what he wants in the von Trapp family, and constantly tries to convince the Captain to let him enter the children in the Salzburg Music Festival. He is also somewhat neutral when it comes to the Third Reich, and although he doesn't like or approve of it, Max is more willing than the Captain to let it quietly take place. Nevertheless, due to their close friendship, he helps the von Trapps escape during the festival.
Eleanor Parker as Baroness Elsa Schraeder, the Captain's lady friend from Vienna, and later, for a short period, fiancee. The Baroness becomes jealous of Maria's talent, and convinces her to leave during a grand party at the house by exploiting Maria's inner conflict about becoming a nun and her discomfort at the Captain's obvious affection towards her. The Captain announces their engagement to the children, but she doesn't go over well with them. After Maria's return, the Captain confesses to the Baroness that he is being unfair to her. Seeing the marriage wouldn't work, she gives her blessings to both Maria and the Captain and peacefully returns to Vienna.
Charmian Carr as Liesl von Trapp, the eldest of the von Trapp children, sixteen ("going on seventeen"). She at first believes she doesn't need a governess, but soon comes to trust Maria. Liesl is in love with a messenger named Rolfe, who delivers their telegrams. However, Rolfe changes after joining the Nazis, no longer caring for Liesl. She seeks advice from Maria about this, who tells her to "wait a year or two" to find love. She is shocked to see Rolfe is one of the search party, and begs him to stop and to let them escape.
Nicholas Hammond as Friedrich von Trapp, the second oldest of the children, fourteen. He is very quiet; he is also something of a gentleman, despite his involvement in the tricks against the previous governesses, which the children confess were merely to get the Captain's attention.
Heather Menzies as Louisa von Trapp, the third of the children, thirteen. She and Brigitta are often together, and Louisa is a bit of a daydreamer.
Duane Chase as Kurt von Trapp, the second boy and the middle of the children, eleven. Kurt often tries to act manly and is outspoken against the previous governesses and often questions Maria about things, once trying to learn an Austrian waltz. He is notable for being somewhat loud and boisterous at times.
Angela Cartwright as Brigitta von Trapp, the fifth child, ten. Brigitta is very sharp-witted, honest, and somewhat nonconformist, not afraid to speak her mind about things (e.g., Maria's dress being ugly). She is sometimes shown to have her head in a book.
Debbie Turner as Marta von Trapp, the sixth child, seven. Marta gets along well with Maria, sharing her love of pink and being the first to like her. She once mentions a pink parasol as her birthday gift.
Kym Karath as Gretl von Trapp, the seventh and youngest of the children, five. She speaks very little, and is often shy. As the other children tell Maria to adopt questionable behaviors and practices, Gretl tells Maria – as her first phrase in the film – "Don't you believe a word they're saying, Fraulein Maria, because I like you." In real life, Kym could not swim. When the boat turned over in the water, she had to be lifted up from a couple of people, unseen, that were under the water. During one rehearsal, Kym threw up, after swallowing water.
Peggy Wood as Mother Abbess, the head of Maria's abbey, who convinces her to leave the abbey and explore life as a governess for a while. When Maria returns, she has her explain why she left and realizes Maria is in love, and convinces her to return and face her problems, to see what might come of this love. This proves to be good advice, as Maria later marries the Captain. Mother Abbess also shelters Maria and her family while they are hiding from the Nazis and helps them escape to Switzerland. Peggy Wood was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for her performance. Singing voice dubbed by Margery McKay.
Anna Lee as Sister Margaretta, a nun who looks fondly on Maria. She, as well as Sister Berthe, helps her to escape by sabotaging Gauleiter's car.
Portia Nelson as Sister Berthe, a nun who doesn't believe Maria belongs in the abbey; she nevertheless helps her escape by sabotaging Gauleiter's car.
Daniel Truhitte as Rolfe, a messenger who is in love with Liesl. The two become estranged after he joins the Nazi Party, as he realizes that her father has no regard for him and does not support Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. Rolfe subtly warns the von Trapps about the danger they face for not obeying the summons of the Reich.
Ben Wright as Hans Zeller, Gauleiter, an enforcer of the Third Reich, and the main antagonist of the film. He is oppositional against the Captain as early on as the party held for the Baroness. He later returns to inform Max that the Captain is to be escorted to his new position in the German Navy, personally meeting the Captain himself. Through the intervention of the abbey and the festival, the von Trapps ultimately elude his grasp.
The famous marionette puppet sequence for the song "The Lonely Goatherd" was produced and performed by the leading puppeteers of the day, Bil Baird and Cora Eisenberg-Baird.